Angels Big Gamble to Replace Trumbo

With the team having traded slugger Mark Trumbo away for two pitching hopefuls, the Angels already questionable offense suddenly developed a major hole. With few free agent possibilities around and with a pretty thin roster of expendable talent that could be trade bait, they dove into the retirement home section of the free agent market today to sign 41-year-old Raul Ibanez to fill the designated hitter slot.

This move presupposes two important matters: 1) That Albert Pujols returns to health and can play every day at first base, and 2) That Ibanez is fit enough to make a contribution over the course of a long season during which he will turn 42.

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Reports of the signing say that Ibanez will replace Trumbo as the DH, but in fact Trumbo played much of the season at first base (all or part of 123 games), right field (all or part of 19 games), left field (all or part of 8 games), and one game at third base. If Pujols makes a full recovery and can play first on a daily basis, then the DH spot will belong to Ibanez. But, if Pujols cannot play in the field, then he will be relegated to DH, and Mike Scioscia will have the choice of putting Ibanez in left field in place of Kole Calhoun or J.B. Shuck, or having him take a seat on the bench. At only $2.75 M for the 2014 season, Ibanez is a bargain, and some bench time would not

be the same as benching a $17.4 M/year Josh Hamilton.

Then there is the issue of decreasing production. The season totals that Ibanez has put up over the last three years are impressive, averaging 23 home runs while playing in 133

games per year. He has, however, had a batting average in the .240s each season. But looking a little further over the past couple of seasons is revealing. Last year in Seattle, he had 19 of his 29 home runs through June and hit only ten more over the final three months. In 150 August and September at bats, he drove in exactly eight runs. This followed a similar pattern he had during his 2012 season with the yankees, when he hit 19 home runs, but 14 of them through July and only four over August and September, while hitting .216.

Clearly, the long season takes a toll on his 40-plus-year-old-body, and that does not bode well for an Angels’ team that hopes to be contending for a playoff spot come August and September.

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Obviously the Angels looked to the north for a free agent power hitter, but they blinked and took the wrong guy. Also fleeing the Pacific Northwest for greener pastures is former Angels’ slugger Kendrys Morales. He would have cost a bit more, and apparently the Angels are reserving the bulk of their still available cash to make a run at Matt Garza or Masahiro Tanaka, but he can play first base if need be, and remember he came to the majors as a full

time third baseman.

Jerry Dipoto has been on thin ice with several moves that to some defy logic. He is really gambling on some questionable acquisitions going into 2014. Trading Trumbo for two potential starting pitchers who between them have won a grand total of 11 major league games, and then replacing Trumbo with the ancient ex-Mariner are moves that can be seen as being made out of desperation. But, baseball is a funny game, it could all work out.

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